While meat consumption has increased greatly in Australia, the number of meat producers has significantly reduced.
People now eat ten times more chicken than in 1960, but the number of chicken farms in Australia has plummeted and two corporations now produce the majority of poultry in Australia.
(Baiada Poultry Pty Limited and Inghams EnterprisesPty Limited have a combined market share of 69% See IBISWorld 2011, Industry Report C2112 Poultry Processing in Australia, p. 4}
Between 1970 and 2002 the number of pig producers in Australia declined by 94%, while total pig meat production grew by 130%.
(Productivity Commission 2005, Australian Pigmeat Industry, Report no. 35, Melbourne, p 9.)
Who pays the price of this monopoly?
All of us, animals and humans.
Here are 10 facts:
1) The pressure put on animals to grow quicker and produce more meat, milk and eggs results in frequent health problems for the animals and consequently for the humans.
2) An estimated 124,910 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year, with that number set to rise to 150,000 by 2020. 1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. Cancer is a leading cause of death in Australia – cancer accounted for about 3 in 10 deaths in Australia. The most common cancers in Australia (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) are prostate, colorectal (bowel), breast, melanoma and lung cancer. Prostate, bowel and breast cancer have been linked to consumption of animal food by several studies.
Cancer costs more than $3.8 billion in direct health system costs (7.2%).
3) Foodborne illness isn’t the only health threat from factory farms. Overuse of antibiotics can fuel the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the use of arsenic and growth hormones can increase the risk of cancer in people, and crowded conditions can be a breeding ground for disease. When thousands of beef cattle are packed into feedlots full of manure, bacteria can get on their hides and then into the slaughterhouses. Contamination on even one steer can contaminate thousands of pounds of meat inside a slaughterhouse.
4) In the financial year 2009/2010, there were 355 workers’ compensation claims in Victoria’s meat industry that required at least 10 days off work, or cost more than $580 in treatment, or both – almost one a day. Nationally the industry’s injury and illness rate remains twice as high as that in the construction industry, and four times the average of all workplaces.”
5) Abattoir workers are more prone to violence (women have higher level of aggression than men,) according to recent studies.
People who work in abattoirs are more likely to be desensitized to suffering, which in turn could make them more likely to be violent towards humans, a research published in the Society and Animals journal found.
6) The grain harvest fluctuates from year to year, but on average, animals consume about one-third of it. Of this amount, beef cattle consume 21%, similar to the amount eaten by broiler chickens. This is shown in the report published by the Stock Feed Manufacturers’ Council. In fact, it’s not too difficult to demonstrate that animals consume more wheat than all of Australia’s population.
7) To have so much of Australia’s fertile arable land devoted to feeding animals is an incredible waste of agricultural resources. There is more than enough arable land to feed the population with plant foods, with plenty left over for export.
8) Even in Australia, the demand for animal feed is so high that we have to import over half a million tonnes of additional soybean per year. We produce enough soybean to meet a strong local demand in the human food supply, such as tofu and flour products.
9) Tens of thousands of animals generate millions of tons of manure annually, which pollutes water and air and can have health repercussions on neighbors and nearby communities.
10) Many factory farm operators are not benefiting from this system of production because they are not getting paid much.
The tiny handful of companies that dominate each livestock sector exert tremendous control over the prices farmers receive, and they micromanage the day-to-day operations of many farms.